7 February 2012

TAKE SHELTER (Dir. Jeff Nichols, 2011, US)

Michael Shannon experiences apocalyptic visions of the future.
Michael Shannon’s face terrifies me. The bug-eyed expression relays an anxiety that transfixes whereas his cumbersome physique carries an image of dread not so distant from the docile terror of Frankenstein’s monster. Take Shelter is strictly not a horror film but every inch of the frame is filled with an apocalyptic dread that echoes the prescient nature of religious ideologies caught up in culture wars. Jeff Nichols debuted with the memorable Shotgun Stories in 2007, which also featured Michael Shannon. Shannon will next be seen in the forthcoming Superman film as General Zod and over the years he has produced some terrifically impressive performances in films such as Revolutionary Road, Bug and most notably as Nelson Van Alden in the HBO gangster series Boardwalk Empire. In Take Shelter, Shannon plays Curtis LaForche, a family man who has a series of nightmarish premonitions that point to a forthcoming end of the world scenario with strong biblical overtones. Nichols uses Curtis’s mother’s paranoid schizophrenia as a conceit to explore the rational thought processes that are commonly applied to apocalyptic visions. Curtis acts on the nightmarish visions and converts an old storm shelter into a modern day equivalent of an Ark, which he plans to use as protection for his family. No one believes Curtis, assuming he is totally insane but as the ending demonstrates, this film rapidly evolves into a meditation on the absence of faith.

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